On 27th St., between 10th and 11th Ave. in Manhattan, lies the McKittrick Hotel—an establishment that at one time rivaled the Waldorf Astoria and was a thing of legends. This week, the McKittrick brings a whole other meaning to the word legends. To celebrate the Superbowl’s arrival in the Metro-area, Citi is hosting a weeklong series of events at the former-hotel-turned performance-center, entitled “Evenings with Legends," and who better to take part in the series than Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Legend?
The venue was small, holding a few hundred people at most, but the intimate setting provided the perfect place to watch this piano virtuoso do his thing. The room was dark, and the entire place had a jazz club feel to it; think Iridium, but a bit bigger. “I don’t get to play these smaller clubs as much anymore,” said Legend, who then went on to name some of the smaller venues he used to play during the 14 years he spent trying to start a music career in New York, such as the Knitting Factory and the Sugar Bar. It’s a shame he can’t do more smaller gigs because they make for a better show. Legend has more creative control, as there’s no backing band to worry about—it’s just the man and his piano, so he can easily improvise, perform extended solos, take audience requests, etc. (all of which he did tonight).
Legend had some surprises in store for us tonight, deviating from what many in attendance were expecting. In addition to his own classics, including “Tonight (Best You Ever Had),” “Ordinary People,” and “Used to Love U,” Legend played us his jazzed-up version of the Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun,” in honor of their 50th anniversary of appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show. Legend also told us the story of how he was “naturally” asked to appear on the Jimmy Fallon Show during Bruce Springsteen Week and collaborate on a unique version of “Dancing in the Dark” with the Roots, and how he subsequently became self-conscious when months went by and he hadn’t heard whether or not the Boss liked their rendition. Long story short, he does. And so did tonight’s crowd.
Throughout the entire show, Legend was flawless. Not one wrong key was struck. Not one riff went flat. The man is the epitome of suave and had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, right up until he ended the set with a smooth rendition of his newest single off his Love in the Future album, “All of Me.” Legend is an excellent performer and gave us “all of himself” during tonight’s show (insert groan here).
For more information on Citi’s Evenings with Legends, check out www.citiprivatepass.com.